Colombo: All praise for Yuvraj Singh's small but notable contributions in India's World Twenty20 campaign so far, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the all-rounder, who returned to cricket after beating cancer, is an indispensable part of his T20 line-up.
Yuvraj, playing his first international event after recovering from a rare germ cell cancer, has been in decent form both with the bat and ball besides making his mark as an agile fielder.
The 30-year-old effected a run out, picked up two crucial wickets besides contributing 19 runs with the bat in the Super Eight win against Pakistan last night which kept India's chances of making the semifinals alive.
"If we look at our combination, we play seven batsmen and you can't leave out someone like Yuvraj Singh. We had never considered the option of leaving out Yuvraj," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
"Our bowling line-up is such that we need a left-arm bowler who can take the ball away from the batsman. Also he is a brilliant fielder as you saw with the run-out today," he added.
Yuvraj's fitness has been questioned by former India captain Ravi Shastri but Dhoni feels that the senior player is certainly fit for this format.
"I am not really concerned about his fitness as far as this format is concerned. He has worked really hard at the NCA for the past few months. He has also played some active T20 matches before coming into international cricket. More so the batting time in the middle will certainly help him as in domestic cricket, you don't get the kind of bowlers you get here."
The question of combination was asked and Dhoni's reply was the cliched "horses for courses".
"Our combination always depends on the kind of wicket we get. Like it will be very difficult for me to say what will be my strategy for the next match," Dhoni said.
"Also we have the liberty of watching how the wicket behaves during first match and that certainly has an impact on our team selection for the next game," he explained.
He praised Virat Kohli for his consistency and defended both Kohli and Yuvraj for not trying to finish it with 20 deliveries left as that would have bettered their run-rate.
"I think they have played in the way they should have. There are times when you go for shots and lose wickets which increase the pressure on the side. Here when they realised that even if they get out they are not going to lose the match, they did go for big shots."
The skipper also felt that Pakistan losing wickets at regular intervals made it difficult for the arch-rivals to put up a big score.
"When you lose wickets at regular intervals, around 10th or 12th over, there is a dilemma whether to go all out or to play for par-score. Normally, teams choose the second option."
After the hammering his bowlers received at the hands of Australia, Dhoni felt that they recovered well to have a "good day" in office.
"We don't have 145 kmph bowlers. We have bowlers who are slightly slower but do have the skill to get opposition batsmen out. But they need some help from the wicket in order to perform. During last match, the rain really made it difficult for them to grip the ball," Dhoni said.
Asked about the next game against South Africa, Dhoni was forthright.
"We can't make plans right away as a lot of things will depend on the result of the earlier (Australia vs Pakistan) match. May be we will have some plans but then we might not need that plan at all."
South Africa have already lost two matches and look like bowing out from Super Eights and Dhoni felt that not "clicking as a unit has been their problem."
"They have a complete side with two good fast bowlers, Jacques Kallis, two spinners. They have batsmen like AB (De Villiers), Hashim Amla and Duminy. But then in this format, you need to click as a team.
"You need one guy to score 50 and lot of other guys need to play those little 15, 20 run innings. Unless you have a Chris Gayle in your side who can alone make the difference that shifts the momentum in your favour."